Jordan's king sacks cabinet amid street protests

The king of Jordan today sacked his government in the wake of street protests and asked an ex-army general to form a new cabinet, the country's Royal Palace said.

King Abdullah's move came after thousands of Jordanians took to the streets - inspired by the regime change in Tunisia and the turmoil in Egypt - and called for the resignation of prime minister Samir Rifai, who is blamed for a rise in fuel and food prices and slowed political reforms.



The Royal Palace said Mr Rifai's cabinet resigned today.



King Abdullah also nominated Marouf al-Bakhit as his prime minister-designate.







The king instructed the PM-designate to "undertake quick and tangible steps for real political reforms, which reflect our vision for comprehensive modernisation and development in Jordan", a statement from the Royal Palace said.



Mr al-Bakhit previously served as Jordan's premier from 2005-07.



The king also stressed that economic reform was a "necessity to provide a better life for our people, but we won't be able to attain that without real political reforms, which must increase popular participation in the decision-making".



He asked Mr al-Bakhit for a "comprehensive assessment... to correct the mistakes of the past", but did not elaborate. The statement said King Abdullah also demanded an "immediate revision" of laws governing politics and public freedoms.



When he ascended to the throne in 1999, King Abdullah vowed to press ahead with political reforms initiated by his late father King Hussein. Those reforms paved the way for the first parliamentary election in 1989 after a 22-year gap, the revival of a multi-party system and the suspension of martial law in effect since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.



But little has been done since. Although laws were enacted to ensure greater press freedom, journalists are still prosecuted for expressing their opinion or for comments considered slanderous of the king and the royal family.



Some gains have been made in women's rights, but many say they have not gone far enough. King Abdullah has pressed for stiffer penalties for perpetrators of "honour killings" but courts often hand down lenient sentences.



Still, Jordan's human rights record is generally considered a notch above that of Tunisia and Egypt. Although some critics of the king are prosecuted, they frequently are pardoned and some are even rewarded with government posts.



Mr al-Bakhit is a moderate politician, who served as Jordan's ambassador to Israel earlier this decade.



He holds similar views to King Abdullah in keeping close ties with Israel under a peace treaty signed in 1994 and strong relations with the United States, Jordan's largest aid donor and long-time ally.



In 2005, King Abdullah named Mr al-Bakhit as his prime minister days after a triple bombing on Amman hotels claimed by the al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.



During his 2005-2007 tenure, Mr al-Bakhit - an ex-army major general and top intelligence adviser - was credited with maintaining security and stability following the attack, which killed 60 people and was labelled as the worst in Jordan's modern history.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer / Web Designer

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future